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Dr. David Rudolph

Studies to protect drinking water wells from nutrient contamination

A research project that has widespread implications for source water protection and involves collaboration across two UW faculties is underway in Woodstock, Ont. The primary investigator is Dr. David Rudolph, Earth Sciences, who along with Dr. Neil Thomson, Civil Engineering, is assessing the effectiveness of alternative agricultural land-use management practices to reduce nutrients in groundwater. The research involves a study site in the capture zone of wells supplying the city’s drinking water that have been impacted by nitrate contamination. A research facility was created at the Thornton Well Field where concentrations of nitrate have progressively increased, likely due to a legacy of fertilizer application nearby. Oxford County bought the farmland directly adjacent to the wells and initiated a nutrient management strategy being assessed to minimize further leaching of excess nutrients. The overall objective is to progressively reduce the concentration of nitrate in the wells.